All over the world, trends are being observed towards pedestrianizing whole districts rather than individual streets. In a recent exhibition, Zaha Hadid Architects proposes “Walkable London”, a full-scale network of pedestrian routes which will create corridors of activation across the capital. This event will run until February 26, 2018 at New London Architecture.
Transforming just a few streets will hardly make a big difference in terms of congestion, pollution, safety, public health, economic benefits and social capital. To make walking part of a daily routine, a full pedestrian network is needed as an integral part of the city’s transport infrastructure.
The UK capital has seen some great examples of pedestrianization that revitalized the whole districts. Based on their experience of working in 44 countries, Zaha Hadid Architects is presenting a tangible strategy that connects these disparate pedestrianized zones, and making London the number one walking city in the world.
London’s Trafalgar Square experienced a 300% increase in visitors after the pedestrianisation of its North Terrace. Temporary Sunday closures to traffic on Regent Street results in a 57% increase in footfall. Globally, commercial activity increases by an average of 30% following the pedestrianization of a street or district.
On average, Londoners spent more than 100 hours per year stuck in traffic, costing the city’s economy £6.2bn (£1,911 per person) annually, while over 90% of air pollution in cities is caused by vehicle emissions.
Walking just 20 minutes a day lowers the risk of heart disease, the major cause of premature death in the UK, by 30%. More than 40% of Londoners do not achieve the recommended 150 minutes of activity a week, contributing to the costs of illnesses derived from physical inactivity estimated at £12.6 per annum (8.3% of the UK’s national health spending).
Increasing the density of the city’s residential neighborhoods, through adaptive reuse and retrofit as well as the infill of disused lots, may not appear to be part of the city’s transport strategy, yet it addresses key issues of housing, transportation and community development.
Studies conclude that every 10 minutes of commuting reduces community involvement by 10%. Increasing opportunities for Londoners to live within walking distance of their work also increases their opportunities to interact with their community–an important factor of our well-being and happiness.
Developing London’s pedestrian-friendly environment will involve a wide variety of transformations—there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Careful analysis, engagement and support is required to develop the best solutions for each community.
London was traditionally a walking city. Walkable London presents proposals that re-introduce walking as an integral part of the city’s transport network.